Visa fraud crackdown: why Australia and Canada take a smarter approach to post-study work visas


On 13th July, the UK’s House of Commons released a Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules. These official amendments forbid international students from extending their visa after their studies, slashing their future career prospects and forcing them to leave the country.

According to James Brokenshire, the Minister of State for Immigration, these new rules will “reduce net migration” and “tackle immigration abuse, whilst ensuring we maintain an excellent offer for students who wish to study at our world-class universities”, but with foreign students serving as the scapegoat for the UK Government’s lax border control, it is no doubt doomed to have the opposite effect.

The reforms, due to be implemented later this week, will prohibit students from applying for work visas unless they leave the country first, and will axe the current rights that allow them to work up to 10 hours a week. Further education visas are due to be cut from three years down to two, and students will not be able to extend their studies unless the institution they are registered with has a “formal link to a University”.

Brokenshire stated that: “Immigration offenders want to sell illegal access to the UK jobs market- and there are plenty of people willing to buy. Hard-working taxpayers who are helping to pay for publicly-funded colleges expect them to be providing top-class education, not a back door to British work visa.”

The tough new rules, unveiled by the UK’s home secretary Theresa May, have received an onslaught of criticism from academics who claim the crackdown on foreign students will starve Britain of revenue and talent.

Professor Paul Webley, Director of SOAS University, said: “International students bring money and- if they stay- talent to the UK that the country would not otherwise attract. All British Universities, including SOAS, have good systems for ensuring compliance with the student visa system. From our experience, students who stay on after they finish their studies develop very strong links with the UK, and so have an understanding of and affinity for the UK that is of great long term benefit for the country.”

Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has publicly expressed displeasure over the latest Government restrictions, claiming they are putting off the brightest foreign students from studying here in Britain. During a recent visit to India, Johnson told students of Amity University that he was pushing for the Government to set up an educational exports commission to advocate Britain’s Universities overseas, as well as to help foreign students secure a successful future.

He said: “The Government is right not to open the door to those who will simply be a drain on the state, but it’s crazy that we should be losing India’s top talent and global leaders of the future to Australia and the United States.”

The latest figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) demonstrate a worrying 25% reduction in the population of Indian students choosing to study in the UK. A report from the National Union of Students claims that more than 12,000 students may already have lost their place at UK institutions, and also suggests that few, if any, have had their fees refunded.

With the future prospects of foreign students choosing to study in the UK looking increasingly grim, it won’t be long before international competitors start cashing in the benefits. In 2012, Jo Johnson, the Universities and Science Minister, co-authored an article where he claimed that competitors in the US, Australia and Canada “take a smarter approach to post-study work.”

He added: “Students value this highly (partly because it enables them to start paying off loans) and will invest their human capital elsewhere if [post-study work] is not available.”

Image via AP Images.

Liked this? Then you’ll love these…

Britain Losing Out On ‘Global Talent’ by Restricting International Student Visas

Theresa May’s Visa Plan Blocked but Immigration Battle far from Won